Anchorage’s police body camera policy is again delayed, frustrating Assembly and community members

Parking lot full of parked police cars.
Police patrol cars. (Valerie Kern/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage police officials say the timeline to put body cameras on officers has hit another delay, and some Assembly members say they may need to take a more hands-on approach to get the cameras implemented. 

Community members are tired of waiting, said Assemblyman Kevin Cross.

“I’ve been telling my community councils that we’ve been moving forward and giving them wildly optimistic, or at least mildly optimistic, feedback,” said Cross, who represents Eagle River and Chugiak. “So now I’m going to have to go back this month and say sorry. And they’re going to want answers.”

Cross spoke at an Assembly Public Safety committee meeting Wednesday, where Deputy Police Chief Sean Case gave an update on the status of body cameras. The police department and the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association, the union representing the officers, have been locked in negotiations over the body camera policy for months. They announced last year that they would enter arbitration over it, which was set to begin as early as April.

Case told Assembly members on Wednesday that arbitration has now been delayed to late fall. 

“There was an additional issue that came up in negotiations,” he said, “and both parties agreed that the additional complication with the policy that came up required more preparation time, and potentially even a longer arbitration period.”

Case said he couldn’t go into details over what issue is delaying the arbitration process.

Anchorage voters approved a $1.8 million tax levy to purchase and implement body cameras for police officers in 2021.

Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the nonprofit Alaska Black Caucus, which has long advocated for body cameras on officers, called the long wait for cameras “ridiculous.” During public testimony at the meeting, she criticized the lack of answers on what’s holding up the arbitration.

“This is past the point of frustration,” Hodge-Growden said. “It just seems that at every meeting, there’s a whole new situation that prolongs officers from being outfitted with body cams.”

The Anchorage Police Department is among the last large public safety departments in the state without body cameras. Departments in cities like Fairbanks and Juneau have officers outfitted with cameras, as do smaller rural communities like Kotzebue and Nome. The Alaska State Troopers released a draft body camera policy in February. 

APDEA President Darrell Evans said he understands the frustration from the public at the amount of time it’s taken to get body cameras on officers. While the arbitration deadline has been pushed back, he says representatives from the police department and the union are still having negotiation meetings.

“We’re in talks constantly to try to come to a mutual agreement,” Evans said. “So we haven’t postponed our talks between the APD and the APDEA. We’ve just postponed the third-party arbitrator getting involved.”

Evans says the police department and union are still hopeful they can come to an agreement before arbitration.

“If we can come to a mutual agreement between the parties that are actually going to implement and be using this policy, versus a third-party deciding the policy that’s going to affect the Anchorage Police Department officers, as well as the citizens of Anchorage, then it’s better for everyone involved,” Evans said.

Cross said that, so far, the Assembly has taken a hands-off approach to the body camera policy, letting the police department and the union work it out on their own. He said he doesn’t think it’ll stay that way.

“My anticipation is that, given this most recent information, they’re probably going to take a more proactive role with some sort of resolution or an executive session to figure out why this doesn’t seem to be progressing,” Cross said.

While the body cameras are still months away from being implemented, Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle said the department is working to finalize the vendor of the cameras. He said a decision will be made by the end of next week.

This story has been updated with comment from the APDEA.

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Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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